An Antique Massachusetts House Is Given Back Its Grandeur with Research, Care, and Vision

“Due to its level of disrepair when purchased, this was a historic replication as opposed to a restoration,” shares the developer.

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If you’ve ever driven by a home and thought to yourself, “Someone could do something amazing with that place,” then this property’s story is for you. Not everyone turns such musings into dreams and then into actions, but developer Jeff Novack did.

Novack had a casual fascination with Hadley House in Wenham, Massachusetts before becoming the visionary who would bring it back to life and into its next era. “I live close by and passed by the property frequently. I was intrigued by the historic features of the home and thought it could be restored to be quite grand,” the seasoned developer remembers.

Named after Frank Hadley, the 1855-built manor near Boston has a well-documented history. It was left to Hadley’s daughter Phoebe, who lived in the home with her husband Dr. John Robinson, a Civil War surgeon.

Fast-forward a century or so and life here was looking a little different. Hadley House had not been occupied for many years and had fallen into significant disrepair. The foundation, which was original to the home, was failing and especially needed attention.

As Novack conducted some light research, the stars aligned when the historic abode hit the market. “I brought an architect, Eric Gjerde, who I had been working with, to see it. Eric has a special passion for detail and history like I do, and we began to discuss how this home could be renovated and added to. We both felt it was sad that the home’s historic details had been virtually erased from the inside but knew the outside features and details had extraordinary potential to be replicated.”

Novack officially took the diamond in the rough under his wing in October 2021. He set out to make the home as grand as it once was, creating a master plan for the property and assembling a top-notch development team including expert contractor Paul Jackson and interior designer Mia Davis. There would be plan approvals, cranes, and plenty of deep research ahead, but the wheels were excitedly in motion.

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Jeff Novack sits comfortably in the refreshed and bright interiors of Hadley House.

One of the most elaborate endeavors was moving the home itself. It was sited in the front left corner of the large lot and the front door did not face the street. Since the foundation needed to be rebuilt anyway, Novack and Gjerde wanted to reposition the house further back into the center of the property and pivot it 90 degrees for a more welcoming appearance. Aesthetically, the exterior was also set to be redone and replicated to look exactly as it once did historically.

Novack recalls, “There was a historic map discovered by Eric Gjerde that depicted the home facing forward with the bay window in the rear, as opposed to how it was positioned when purchased (front door facing right and bay window facing the left). Obviously, the approval process was anxiety-provoking as the plan proposed was quite ambitious. Fortunately, all the research and historical knowledge the team was able to learn in this process helped to make the collaboration with the Town and its Historic Commission quite successful and enjoyable. The Wenham Historic Commission was supportive of all the Development Team’s plans for the exterior of the home including moving and spinning it to face Main Street.”

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Architect Eric Gjerde worked closely with Novack step-by-step to give this historic structure the sensitive redesign it deserved.

With the plans greenlighted in January 2022, the team sprang into action. By the end of March 2022, the interiors were gutted, the house was moved, and the rebuild was in full swing. Novack and the team began to model the interiors with 1800s style in mind while integrating 21st-century luxury and adding 1,000 square feet of living space.

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To achieve this, the team knew Marvin was the right choice for all of Hadley House’s windows and doors. Marvin offers custom, high-end solutions and has an unwavering reverence for the historical details that make all the difference. The team trusted the renowned company, founded in 1912 and tirelessly innovative, to help bring Hadley House into its next chapter.

They selected the brand’s Ultimate line to replace the original, 7-foot-tall Double Hung G2 windows throughout the first story, each custom-made to replicate the exacting details of the era while meeting modern-day performance standards. Other Marvin products found throughout the home include Ultimate Casement Round Tops and Inswing Arch Top French Door in the primary suite, Ultimate Narrow Profile Inswing doors, and Double Hung G2, as well as Elevate Casement windows in the sun-drenched great room that overlooks the pastoral backyard. These new, energy-efficient Marvin windows amazingly look just like the originals.

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Meanwhile, research and old photographs guided the exterior’s complete makeover. The team preserved and recreated its Second Empire-style elements: The mansard roof, the hand-turned wooden corbels, the custom-made working shutters, and the custom Victorian wrap-around porch with cottage detailing. Hadley House also received a brand-new detached garage designed to complement the home’s 19th-century stature. It looks like a traditional carriage house and adds charm to the residence without overpowering it.

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Grand homes are created in the details. The details of craftsmanship, stability, history, and beauty are all found at Hadley House now.

“The Development Team’s plan for the Hadley House, due to its level of disrepair when purchased, was historic ‘replication’ as opposed to ‘restoration,’ Novack reflects. Up for sale and ready for its first inhabitants in years, 169 Main Street is a shining example of what can happen when a passing thought becomes a plan and then a project.

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